BEGINNING WITH OUR PEOPLEAny church is its people, especially ours with its diverse ethnic and cultural membership both now and in the past. Led by our first pastor and first members in 1849, they form a long line which has marched steadily with the growth of the church, year after year, to this very day. Whispers of their hope, faith, joy and devotion, their sorrows, tragedies and desperation, their commitments, their untiring works and their inspiration speak softly to us.
Written by Clara Stearns Scarbrough
From a mission in 1849 to First United Methodist Church today is a story of perseverance and vision. Dates, buildings, and events form the skeleton for the history of First Church, and its flesh and blood are the people who have shared this common ministry for over 166 years.
The uniqueness of this church is its diversity. In its pews are ranchers, farmers, townspeople, students, professional people, faculty, staff, and administrators of Southwestern University. In its pulpit have been over fifty pastors, challenged to minister to a pluralistic congregation which has always been a rich mixture of the academic community of Southwestern University and the varied cultural heritages of Central Texas.
You will discover in this brief history more than a story of buildings and pastors. Running through the events is a will to be the church of Jesus Christ in this community and in Methodism around the world.
We rejoice in such heritage from the people called "Methodists" whose lives have converged in this place. Their story is that of the influence of a congregation on the life of a town, on generation after generation of college students, and through them the character of a region and a nation.
In this sense the influence of this church has been powerful far beyond the buildings, budget, and membership through the living heritage of her people.
At this writing we give thanks for the past, we celebrate the present, and we are filled with hope for the future. Our ministry has always been to every person who is in need of any expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are alive as a church today because those who came before us were zealous in finding meaningful ways to live out that gospel together.
Written by Rev. J. Thomas, Graves, 1974
1 original writing: 125 years
2 original writing: fifty pastors
1835: In 1835, William B. Travis appealed to Methodist officials to send preachers to “this benighted land". The church responded in 1837 with three missionaries for all the inhabited areas of Texas.
1849: Georgetown’s First United Methodist Church began in La Grange on December 6, 1849, when the Annual Texas Conference assigned James W. Lloyd to organize Georgetown Mission Church of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Methodist missionaries had been in Texas for 12 years at this time.
1873: Denominations consisted of Methodist, Presbyterian (in the process of building a church), Cumberland Presbyterian and Baptist. There were no church buildings in Georgetown.
1874: The church met at Southwestern University from 1874 until it built its own “Chapel” on the southwest corner of Southwestern University’s original campus in 1882.
1892: The cornerstone of the present church was laid March 9, 1892. Four large, composite sets of leaded, stained-glass windows of Gothic Revival characteristics and a number of small, high windows were installed in the sanctuary. Construction was completed in 1893.
1896: Formal dedication of the sanctuary took place the third Sunday of October in 1896.
1987: Growth in the church in the late 1970s and early 1980s led to various building projects. The Thatcher and Genevieve Atkin Educational Activities Building was consecrated on Sunday, May 17, 1987.
2006: The McKinney Ministry Center, located east of the Sanctuary on the Northwest corner of University Avenue and Ash Street, was consecrated in May 2006.
Portions of this history were documented in "The First United Methodist Church", Georgetown, Texas by Clara Scarbrough, 1997.